Outcry over unchecked antisemitic content and commentary on social media site X, some of it endorsed by the platform’s owner Elon Musk, reached a tipping point on Friday, with large advertisers such as Apple Inc. pulling ads and the White House chastising the billionaire.
Musk, who regularly engages with antisemitic users on X, agreed with a post that said Jewish people hold a “dialectical hatred” of white people. “You have said the actual truth,” Musk responded.
The White House called Musk’s reply an “unacceptable” act that endangers Jewish communities. Meanwhile, several Tesla Inc. shareholders also spoke out against Musk, who is the CEO of the electric car maker, with some saying he should be suspended from his post.
Americans have “an obligation to speak out against anyone who attacks the dignity of their fellow Americans and compromises the safety of our communities,” White House spokesman Andrew Bates said in a statement on Friday. Musk’s companies, including Space Exploration Technologies Corp., hold several government contracts.
Musk’s remarks added to backlash sparked by a report report from Media Matters released Thursday showing ads for Apple, International Business Machines Corp., Oracle Corp., Comcast Corp.’s Xfinity brand and the Bravo television network running on X next to pro-Nazi content. IBM said it will stop advertising on X until the situation is resolved. The European Commission and Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. also said they would pull ads on X.
Apple, one of the biggest advertisers on X, said it’s taking a pause in showing ads on the site. The two companies already had a precarious relationship. After Musk took over the social network last year—unleashing a torrent of job cuts and policy changes—Apple also suspended advertising for a while. Musk escalated tensions by implying that he might break Apple’s App Store rules in order to stop paying fees.
But he and Apple CEO Tim Cook met at the iPhone maker’s headquarters late last year and patched up the relationship. Musk said in December that Apple had “fully resumed” advertising on what was then called Twitter.
Cook has previously called X an “important property” but said he disagrees with the antisemitic discourse that has allegedly increased since Musk took over. He has said that the Cupertino, California-based company “constantly” asks itself if it should continue advertising.
Axios earlier on Friday reported that Apple is pausing ads on X.